Saudi Arabia's Prince Muqrin bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz has been named Second Deputy Prime Minister, the third ranking post in the Saudi governmental structure (the King is Prime Minister and the Crown Prince is First Deputy PM). The post also is traditionally seen as an indicator that the holder is next in line to be Crown Prince.
With King ‘Abdullah increasingly frail and widespread concerns that Crown Prince Salman (already the third Crown Prince since ‘Abdullah has been king) is suffering the effects of a stroke a few years ago, there has been increased speculation about the line of succession after Salman, particularly whether it may go to one of the next generation of princes. The appointment of Muqrin appears to say: not so fast. Muqrin though one of the youngest sons of King ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (and the youngest in public life) is still of the older generation; he is 67. While trying to read the tea leaves of Saudi family politics is notoriously unreliable, the appointment would seem to suggest that despite recent promotions to key posts for several of the younger generation the throne will remain with the older generation a bit longer.
Formerly head of Saudi intelligence, when he was removed from that post Muqrin became an advisor to the King. As Second Deputy Prime Minister, however, he is likely to enjoy a much higher profile, especially as ‘Abdullah declines and if Prince Salman proves to be impaired.